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Genus Austrostipa Family Poaceae

Description: Perennials (rarely annuals) of various habit. Auricles often present, sometimes one-sided, grading into an usually membranous ligule.

Blade rolled or folded in bud, convolute, terete or flat, usually scabrous or hairy.

Inflorescence an open or contracted panicle, axis persistent or falling as a whole. Spikelets borne singly, pedicellate, disarticulating above the glumes; 1 bisexual floret. Glumes equal or unequal. 1–5-nerved, longer than the floret; a long or short bearded callus below each floret. Lemma terete, hardened, with convolute or involute margins enclosing the palea, usually 5-nerved, with or without 1–2 minute lobes, awned from the tip or between the lobes; awn with once or twice geniculate twisted column and a straight or curved bristle.

Palea membranous. 0–2-nerved, longer or shorter than the lemma. Lodicles 3 or 2.

Distribution and occurrence: A genus of c. 65 species endemic to temperate regions or habitats in Australasia. Many species are important components of native pastures. The mature fruits frequently penetrate the skin, mouths and eyes of stock causing discomfort resulting in lack of condition of stock as well as downgrading the value of the meat. The diaspores with awns and calluses also contaminate wool.

Formerly in the genus Stipa. This key includes species of Amelichoa, which were also formerly included in Stipa. Added K.L.Gibbons 24 Feb 2020.

Text by S.W.L. Jacobs
Taxon concept: Jacobs and Everett 1996; Jacobs et al. 2000.

 Key to the species 
1Panicle pyramidal when mature and spreading, with whorled branches, the branches and pedicles plumose with fine hairs mostly 0.5 mm or longer2
Panicle linear-cylindrical to ovate-cylindrical, the branches and pedicels glabrous, scabrous or pubescent with most hairs less than 0.3 mm long3
2Branches of the panicle plumose with hairs 1.5–2 mm long; culms glabrous; glumes pilose on the nerves, scabrous between the nervesAustrostipa elegantissima
Branches of the panicle plumose with hairs c. 0.5 mm long; culms pubescent around the nodes; glumes scabrous overall
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Austrostipa tuckeri
3Culms branched4
Culms not branched
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4Callus ± 0.5 mm long, sharp; palea more than 60% the length of the lemma5
Callus ± 0.5 mm long, blunt; palea ± 60% the length of the lemma
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5Bristle quite flattened, distinctly broader at its base than the column, strongly curved; column scabrousAustrostipa platychaeta
Bristle round-triangular in cross section, as broad as or narrower at the base than the column, straight; column pubescent
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Austrostipa acrociliata
6Lemma glabrous, 1.8–2.5 mm longAustrostipa ramosissima
Lemma with scattered, short, white hairs 2.7–4 mm long
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Austrostipa verticillata
7Lemma with acute, hairy lobes 1.5–3 mm long at the apex; leaves pungent-pointed; coastal speciesAustrostipa stipoides
Lemma with lobes absent or less than 0.8 mm long; leaves not pungent pointed; habitats various
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8Awn falcate, the bristle curved9
Awn twice bent or almost straight, the bristle straight
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9Awn long-pubescent or plumose with spreading hairs, most of which are 0.25–0.8(–1.5) mm long10
Awn scabrous or puberulous with appressed hairs, most of which are ± 0.2 mm long
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10Leaves with blade 2–6 mm wide (0.8–2 mm diam. if rolled), scabrous to hirsuteAustrostipa drummondii
Leaves with blade usually rolled, 0.3–0.6 mm diam., densely hirsute
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Austrostipa trichophylla
11Bristle strongly flattened, broader at its base than the column; rhizomatousAustrostipa platychaeta
Bristle round-triangular in cross section, as broad as or narrower at the base than the column; not rhizomatous
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12Leaves coarse: sheaths (3–)4.5–9 mm wide; blades 1–3 mm wide, rolled and erect or expanded and flexuous13
Leaves fine; sheaths 2–5 mm wide; blades 0.6–1.2 mm wide, rolled
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13Panicle contracted, usually dense; innovations mostly intravaginal; nodes mostly concealed by the sheathsAustrostipa nitida
Panicle spreading, usually sparse; innovations mostly extravaginal; nodes exserted and conspicuous
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Austrostipa nodosa
14Leaves with sheath softly pilose; blade with dense, long (± 0.5 mm) spreading hairsAustrostipa trichophylla
Leaves with sheath glabrous, scabrous or puberulous; blade glabrous, scabrous or shortly pubescent with most hairs less than 0.5 mm long
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Austrostipa scabra
15Lemma with a coma of hairs at apex16
Coma absent
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16Lemma glabrous or almost so, surface smooth and shiningAustrostipa nullanulla
Lemma pubescent, surface granular
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17Glumes acuminate, very broad and inflated around the floret, sharply narrowing at the tip; floret broad-turbinate to oblong-cylindrical; callus sturdy and strongly curved or hooked, relatively short (usually 10–30% the length of the floret); awn relatively short (usually 4.5–6.5(–8) times the length of the floret); panicle expanded, usually with long branches18
Glumes acute or narrow-acuminate, not inflated around the floret, tapering gradually to the tip; floret cylindrical to narrow-turbinate; callus fine or sturdy, straight, only the proximal naked tip bent, relatively long (usually 25–40% the length of the floret); awn often relatively long (usually 5–)6–13 times the length of the floret); panicle contracted or expanded, usually with short branches
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18Ligule 2–8 mm long, usually more than 3.5 mm long; palea with a deep adaxial central groove; lemma involuteAustrostipa setacea
Ligule ± 2 mm long; palea convex on the adaxial surface or only very slightly depressed between the nerves; lemma convolute
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19Coma 2–5 mm long; lower leaves pubescent or hirsuteAustrostipa blackii
Coma ± 2 mm long; if 2 mm long then lower leaves scabrous or glabrous, not pubescent
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20Mature floret fusiform; callus 0.4–1(–1.5) mm long, very short relative to the ((5.8–)6.5–8) mm long floret; ligule 0.8–1.5 mm longAustrostipa aristiglumis
Mature floret oblong-cylindrical; callus 1–2.5 mm long, long relative to the (4.5–)8.5(–9.5) mm long floret; ligule 0.3–0.5 mm long (not including auricles)
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21Coma 0.8–1.3 mm long; floret 4.5–6 mm long (excluding awn), gibbous with an eccentric awn; awn 25–35(–50) mm longAustrostipa gibbosa
Coma (1.2–)1.4–2 mm long; floret 6–8.5(–9.5) mm long (excluding awn); awn centric, 30–60 mm long
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Austrostipa bigeniculata
22Floret with a dense and obvious coma 2–3.5 mm long23
Floret with a coma ± 1.5 mm long, often obscure
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23Column of the awn villous with hairs 0.5–1 mm longAustrostipa stuposa
Column of the awn scabrous or pubescent with hairs ± 0.3 mm long
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24Lower glume 11–15 mm long; lemma 5.5–6.5 mm longAustrostipa wakoolica
Lower glume 16–20 mm long; lemma 7–8.2 mm long
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Austrostipa metatoris
25Hairs on the lemma continued evenly to the apex, white or slightly reddish brown at maturity; floret linear-cylindrical to narrow-turbinate with no neck26
Hairs on the top 1–2 mm of the lemma abruptly shorter by c. 50% than those on the lower part of the lemma, reddish brown early in development; floret broad turbinate to broad oblong-cylindrical with a neck
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26Lower glume 15–23 mm long; column of the awn villous with hairs 0.5–1 mm long; leaf sheaths usually hirsute or pubescent especially near the base; panicle 20–35 cm longAustrostipa stuposa
Lower glume ± 17 mm long; column of the awn scabrous, pubescent or villous; if villous then leaf sheaths scabrous or minutely puberulous and panicle to 12 cm long; near the coast
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Austrostipa flavescens
27Lower glume 8–12 mm long; column of the awn scabrous with hairs 0.05–0.1 mm longAustrostipa puberula
Lower glume 15–25 mm long; column of the awn pubescent with hairs 0.2–0.4 mm long
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Austrostipa eremophila
28Column of the awn pubescent to plumose with hairs more than 0.3 mm long29
Column of the awn scabrous or puberulous with hairs less than 0.3 mm long
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29Column hairs 1–4 mm long, slightly appressed, distributed mainly along the ribs and thereby appearing to spiral with the spiralling column; floret 7.5–8.5 mm longAustrostipa mollis
Column hairs 0.3–1 mm long, spreading, evenly distributed round the column and therefore not appearing to spiral
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30Glumes glabrous except on the nerves; awn 70–90 mm long; leaves scabrous or glabrous; floret 9–11.5 mm longAustrostipa semibarbata
Glumes pubescent; awn 35–45 mm long; leaves hirsute; floret 5.5–7 mm long
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Austrostipa densiflora
31Palea with a deep adaxial central groove; lemma involute; ligule usually more than 3 mm longAustrostipa setacea
Palea convex on the adaxial surface; lemma convolute; ligule usually less than 3 mm long
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32Lemma glabrous for varying lengths below the apex, surface often tuberculate, especially at the apex; nerves of the glumes heavily overlaid with sclerenchyma forming obvious ridges33
Lemma pubescent overall, hairs occasionally sparser at the apex, surface smooth or granular; glume nerves visible but not raised noticeably above the glume surface
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33Spikelets 8–12 per panicle; column of the awn 55–70 mm long; subalpine grassAustrostipa nivicola
Spikelets more than 12 per panicle; column of the awn less than 55 mm long
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34Lower glume ± 15 mm longAustrostipa rudis
Lower glume ± 17 mm long
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35Ligule truncate, 0.4–1 mm long; glumes truncate; lemma surface strongly tuberculate at the apex; palea 50–70% the length of the lemma, obtuseAustrostipa pubescens
Ligule obtuse, 1–3 mm long; glume tips broad-obtuse and membranous; lemma surface granular; palea equal in length to the lemma, acute
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Austrostipa pubinodis
36Callus ± 0.5 mm long, blunt; palea ± 60% the length of the lemma37
Callus ± 0.5 mm long, sharp; palea equal in length to the lemma
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Austrostipa acrociliata
37Lemma glabrous, 1.8–2.5 mm longAustrostipa ramosissima
Lemma with scattered short white hairs, 2.7–4 mm long
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Austrostipa verticillata

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